Do you know someone juggling a million different projects, yet looks fit, healthy, happy and is somehow reliably there to tuck their kids into bed? They have day jobs, yet they’re always looking to the next thing. They go on vacations, or run successful businesses on the side, or have heavily demanding jobs that they love.
The key is no big secret once you dig in, they’re still living to the same clock as you or I; we all have he exact same hours and minutes in a day. These people simply have amazing time management skills and are focused on the things they want to accomplish. I’ve learned in studying 1000’s of successful entrepreneurs that most of this success comes from being extremely organized.
Here are a few things to get a healthier and more organized life:
1. Organize with a realistic goal in mind.
People who try to make a significant change in their lives with only an abstract idea of their goal find themselves falling back to their old habits. There are thousands of reasons why people may want to organize or re-organize their lives. Perhaps you want to be a better boss or just have a little bit more time at night with your kids. Whatever your goal, it should be fully visualized and attainable with small, actionable, day-to-day steps.
2. Refocus your schedule on your most important daily priorities.
Your schedule reflect your goals. Right now, my goal is to be more fit. I mark everyday from 11-12 to go to the gym. I have to schedule this time so that I go. It’s the same with dinner time at home or going out with your spouse. If you don’t prioritize it, it generally doesn’t happen.
Cal Newport, who runs the Study Hacks Blog, recommends scheduling every minute of the day the night before (what he calls Time Blocking) to maximize your productivity by avoiding time wasted time between tasks. That puts you in control of the time you dedicate to creative endeavors.
3. Automate whatever possible.
Some things some of us do daily or weekly don’t deserve our time. Updating your computer, planning meals and even household shopping can be automated, depending on how much you’re able and willing to pay for the convenience. Setting up an automated payment plan for your bills is a no-brainer, and you’ll save money by never paying late fees!
4. The KonMari method is a huge overhaul and a new frame of mind.
For an organizational overhaul there’s no better guide than The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, by Japanese “organizing consultant” Marie Kondo. The has swept over the world with a wave of joy-sparking decluttering ideas.
The KonMari method is elegantly simple: get rid of anything you own that no longer sparks joy in your life, from items in your wardrobe to kitchen gadgets. Once that’s out of the way, reorganize your items to fit your most practical life. The KonMari method includes respecting your belongings by teaching you to properly thank the items to be discarded for their service and giving more respectful treatment to the items you keep (“Never, ever ball up your socks… They take a brutal beating in their daily work”).
Regardless if it sounds a little dippy, those who have committed to the Konmari treatment are overwhelmingly supportive about its results.
5. Pursue one ambitious organizational goal at a time.
After applying the method above, give yourself a little break. I recommend a day. This allows you to settle into your new decluttered environment, get familiar with your newly re-empowered items, and learn to live with a cleaner home and office. Then, try to implement organizational goals one at a time.
It takes at least 21 days for a new habit to form, whether it’s as small as making your bed every morning to working out every day, so go slowly and don’t overwhelm yourself.
6. Don’t interrupt important work looking at your smartphone.
Anyone, even the most organized, laser-focused worker bee is susceptible to FOMO (fear of missing out), Internet addiction, and mobile rabbit holes. The insidious nature of smartphones befall all who bow at the altars of the Android and Apple gods, which is why the key to a focused workday is a hard and fast rule: put away your phone.
Don’t even look at it. Nothing that can be transmitted in a pop-up notification can’t be checked later, and you risk derailing ten minutes to checking it, checking your feeds, clicking on a catchy headline, commenting on it, then waiting for a response. Stay socially active by scheduling time to check your Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and Instagram. Keep a timer running — in the next room, if you have to.
7. Talking remains the most efficient way to communicate.
The fewer emails you send out, the fewer emails you have to check! It’s much more efficient to pick up the phone or walk down the hall to talk with coworkers and clients whenever practical. By getting the answer you need on the spot, you waste less time waiting for a response.